There will always be people claiming that “in a free market where there’s demand, there should be a product or service to meet it” but… does it actually work that way in the real world, regardless of circumstances or other factors that can and should be taken into account? nVidia is now seemingly challenging PC owners to think about that with its latest graphics card, the RTX 3090 Ti: a product so extreme, so pointless, that the company’s decision of launching it at all is called into question. Otherwise, most of us will come to the conclusion that nVidia is just… trolling us?
The GeForce RTX 3090 Ti is “the complete version” of the previous flagship nVidia graphics card, the RTX 3090, meaning that all its processing cores are active (10752 vs 10496) while its base clock, boost clock and memory clock are all higher. It sports the same amount of VRAM (24GB) at the same memory bandwidth (384-bit), as well as the same number and type of ports. It goes for $1999 — that is the official RRP, obviously — which is a price point no other consumer graphics card had ever hit at launch… up until now. No, do not comment on the current situation regarding graphics cards’ prices yet. We’ll get to that.
Not fast enough, extremely power-hungry
There are multiple problems with the RTX 3090 Ti, each of which would be a perfectly good reason for not buying one — put together, though, these problems just render nVidia’s latest graphics card pointless. It’s obviously fast, faster than an RTX 3090, but only by about 8% to 10% on average (depending on the game), which is not enough to make that big of a difference in real-world terms. It’s certainly not fast enough to keep nVidia’s, now thoroughly broken, promise of “8K gaming”, which can still only be achieved at 60 fps by using DLSS on somewhat older PC games. Not a performance marvel, then, by any means. Certainly not in 2022 terms.
Then there’s the matter of power consumption. In order for those core and memory clocks to work higher — for a 10% increase in performance too… — they need more power. How much more power? nVidia rates this as a 450-Watt card (the RTX 3090 is rated at 350 Watts), but it can reach 500 Watts when fully stressed or even seriously exceed that number when overclocked by its owner. That is the power needed by this graphics card alone, not the whole PC housing it (which obviously needs a not inconsiderable additional power too if it’s built on the same level as an RTX 3090 Ti).
People that can get this GPU probably do not care much about their electrical bills, yes, but power consumption that high from one graphics card is kind of crazy nowadays. Only multi-GPU setups, of SLI or Crossfire configurations, demanded that much power in order to work in the past. And to think that, if rumors doing the rounds are true, the top RTX 4000 cards will be even more power-hungry…
Bad timing, bad pricing
Speaking of the RTX 4000 series, they are also a problem for the RTX 3090 Ti. Why? Because they are just around the corner. It is widely expected that nVidia will be announcing and launching those very soon, either in June or September, based on the architecture currently codenamed Ada Lovelace. These cards will supposedly shoot for much higher levels of performance, which would obviously explain the rumored higher consumption. It goes without saying that the type of consumer these cards will be targeting first, the early adopter and performance enthusiast with money to burn, is the exact same one the RTX 3090 Ti is targeting now.
The icing on the cake — or the most annoying thing about nVidia’s trolling, if one wants to be frank about it — is the price of the RTX 3090 Ti. Since the issue of GPU availability worldwide is not yet resolved, that $1999 is not just a lot of money to begin with: it’s not even the price that a graphics card like that will end up being sold to consumers. The RTX 3090, whose RRP is theoretically “just” $1449, is still sold for $2000 or $2500 in many parts of the world because of that availability problem. How much is an RTX 3090 Ti going to cost, especially at first when a comparatively small number of them will be available for purchase? Three thousand dollars? Thirty-five hundred dollars? More? It’s worth noting that this is not a workstation card or an AI accelerator card or anything of the sort. It’s a bloody consumer graphics card!
Who’s this graphics card for, then?
So it all comes down to one obvious question: why? Why did nVidia choose to release the RTX 3090 Ti if it costs way more than an RTX 3090 and consumes way more power than its predecessor without being particularly faster? Especially when its own successor is just a few months away targeting the same consumer segment? Why?
One can claim that nVidia did so “because it could”, but it’s an empty answer that can follow practically any question without helping anyone. “Because some people will buy it” may be a better answer, but it also means that nVidia is OK with ripping those people off: even if graphics cards’ prices hadn’t skyrocketed, the company is asking for $500 more than what an RTX 3090 theoretically costs, for a 10% performance benefit over it. This must be a new all-time low in terms of value for money, even in flagship product terms.
Bottom line: don’t buy this card even if you can afford to. Tell your friends to do the same thing. Let nVidia know that trolls can be trolled back. It’s the only way some sense can find its way back to the GPU market… eventually.